Small business owners are being urged to come together to develop relevant materials for entrepreneurs and sole traders who are feeling anxious or depressed due to the daily pressures of running a business.
The Council of Small Business of Australia and beyondblue are looking to form a focus group of 45 small business people from around the country to ensure future mental health resources for SMEs are helpful and appropriate for their specific needs.
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The focus group will run from September through to June 2016 and will be co-ordinated by Leanne Faulkner, founder of Billie Goat Soap and COSBOA’s 2015 small business champion.
Faulkner told SmartCompany this morning the small business community has gone without mental health resources for too long.
“The small business sector, even though we are the largest employer in the country, does not have any resources that specifically speak to us and our needs,” Faulkner says.
“Over 55% of businesses in this country are small operators, so having an employee assistance program which you might see in a large corporate environment isn’t going to work when you’re the only one in the business.”
Faulkner says mental health also needs to be on the national agenda alongside discussions of small business tax cuts and how to stimulate the economy.
“Everyone feels the ripple effect when a small business owner is feeling stressed or challenged,” she says.
“It became apparent we needed to develop resources and support material that really speaks to us and understands the unique situation a small business owner may find themselves in if they’re feeling anxious, stressed or depressed.
“We want to have material that says these are the red flags you need to be aware of and please understand you’re not alone and help is available.”
The focus group will attempt make sure the mental health material being developed is relevant to SMEs before it goes to print and a particular emphasis will be on developing resources for sole traders, who often feel like they can’t take time off work if they are unwell.
“There’s nothing out there for them right now,” Faulkner says.
“They’re so underrepresented and we really need this voice as they know their business better than anyone else. This is a chance to help a lot of people. It’s stage one of a bigger project.”
If you or someone you know is living with mental health issues, please contact beyondblue on 1300 224 634.
If you are interested in joining the small business focus group, please email Leanne Faulkner on [email protected]